C-Section: Know the Facts

Published in Wellness Author: Carris Health

When women dream about their ideal pregnancy and childbirth, major surgery rarely enters the vision. While nearly 32 percent of women in the U.S. welcome their baby by C-section, Carris Health - Redwood Hospital’s Birthing Center has a C-section rate of about 25 percent. C-sections are performed by Dr. Alan Olson or Dr. David Danielson, who recently started his family medicine practice at Affiliated Community Medical Centers – Redwood Falls. If your prenatal care is provided by another local provider, they are usually right along with you in the operating room for the delivery.

“Undergoing surgery can be scary but in small hospital, like Carris Health - Redwood Hospital, the staff is very supportive and does a wonderful job of communicating with patients during the entire process,” says Dr. Danielson.

Whether your C-section is planned or a surprise, understanding more about the procedure can help you prepare for whatever birth experience awaits you.

Avoiding Dangers

C-section may happen for a number of reasons, but usually happens when a traditional vaginal delivery poses danger to mom or baby. The surgery may be scheduled in advance if your doctor is aware of potential problems, or it could be an emergency procedure if complications arise during pregnancy or labor.

Your doctor may suggest scheduling a C-section if:

  • The baby is in a breech (feet or bottom first) or transverse (sideways) position.
  • The baby has certain birth defects.
  • The mother has placental problems, such as the placenta sitting low and covering the cervix (called placenta previa).
  • The mother has an infection such as HIV or herpes.
  • It is a multiple pregnancy.
  • The mother has had a previous C-section or other surgery on her uterus.

“A C-section is a major surgery and should not done without an appropriate medical indication,” Dr. Danielson explains. “I am proud to be part of a staff that has a lower C-section rate than the national average.”

An emergency C-section may occur if:

  • The placenta separates from the uterine wall (placental abruption), which can cause dangerous bleeding.
  • Labor is too slow or stops.
  • The baby is too large to pass through the pelvis.
  • The baby is in distress, such as when the umbilical cord becomes pinched or enters the birth canal before the baby and reduces its oxygen supply.

What to Expect

During a C-section, the doctor makes an incision through the abdomen, then the uterus, and pulls out the baby. Many women receive an epidural or spinal block and are awake during the procedure. In most cases, your labor coach can be with you and you can see your baby immediately after birth. Unless complications arise, you are able to hold and breastfeed your baby in the recovery room shortly after delivery. Because a C-section is a major surgery, the recovery period and hospital stay are generally longer than for a vaginal birth.

“The most important thing in the end is the best outcome possible for mom and baby,” says Dr. Danielson.

* Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov.